My Korean Deli

My Korean Deli

Risking It All for A Convenience Store

Book - 2011/03/01
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A former senior editor of "The Paris Review" recounts his participation in a family effort to buy and run a Korean convenience store for his in-laws, a pursuit that raised issues about work and family while he shuttled between two divergent cultural arenas.
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt, 2011/03/01
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780805093438
Branch Call Number: 381.147 HOW
Characteristics: 304 p. ; 22 cm


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jrno3lzz Jan 27, 2016

koreans have really good insurrance rate quotes

this was like a program managing committee
koreans really opened my mind to better way of living

sbkaur Jan 27, 2016

Well written - funny, good pacing and hard to put down.
Howe captures the immigrants' capacity for hard work and risk. Thoroughly enjoyable read.

Sep 05, 2015

I just realized this year that I read a lot of memoirs, and I read them because I look for a memorable story, told by a memorable voice. I very much enjoyed this one--an honest, funny look at owning a small business in Brooklyn, as well as much self deprecating humor (author is often not very competent at running the store and gets his extended family into difficult situations). There's a lot going on here--clash of cultures (author's WASP family and his wife's Korean family), $ struggles with the store, as well as the author's day job working for George Plimpton at the Paris Review. It is a wacky, funny, depressing, real story.

Mar 05, 2013

A real slice of New York -- from Manhattan publishing to multi-cultural families on Staten Island and a deli in Brooklyn. If it doesn't all come together neatly, well, that's life -- messy, but worth the trip.

hgeng63 Jun 24, 2012

Disappointing; too lightweight & shapeless.

Sep 13, 2011

This was a very entertaining, funny read. Really enjoyed it!

ksoles Sep 06, 2011

...Alternatively titled, "My Big Fat Korean Disappointment."

When Ben Ryder Howe, descendant of the Mayflower Puritans and Senior Editor at "The Paris Review," and his wife, Gab, a Korean-American lawyer, purchase a convenience store for Gab's mother, Kay, the whole family must learn to survive against police stings, armed criminals, blizzards and inflexible customers.

The juxtaposition between the characters in Howe's double life (editor and deli owner) plays out nicely: his narrative shows emotion and warmth towards both Plimpton, his boss at "The Review," and Kay, though the two characters lie poles apart. Plimpton comes across as kind, fun-loving, iconoclastic, vulnerable and bullying all at once while Kay is nothing if not driven, high-strung and stubborn. Impressively, both become more endearing as the book progresses, as does the deli's loyal employee Dwayne, a single father from the projects who has abandoned his troubled past.

But beyond competent characterization, "My Korean Deli" ultimately disappoints. The memoir has such potential for penetrating insight into cultural identity, the immigrant work ethic, Puritan ancestry and gentrification. Unfortunately, although Howe brings these issues to the reader's attention, he uses more ink on witty but redundant commentary than on fleshing them out. Additionally, while Howe succeeds at creating tension, especially when it builds upon one of his own mistakes, he glosses over any resolution and leaves the reader hanging. The result is a frustrating read that ends abruptly and unsatisfactorily.

debwalker Mar 10, 2011

A preppy editor ends up working the night shift behind the counter at his immigrant in-laws' Brooklyn grocery store in this funny, poignant, true story.
— Karen Holt


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